A HAPPY New Year to all our supporters – and welcome to a 2015 in which we need to take this club back to basics.
I cannot go any further without thanking our fans for their forbearance during a frustrating and disappointing period in our recent Premier League history.
It has been a poor couple of years and we should not hide from that criticism. Five wins from the last 33 home league games since March 2013 tells its own story. That is simply not good enough and will have tried the patience of all our fans – I get that and offer a genuine ‘thank you’ for your continued backing.
Every season becomes more difficult and the margins simply get finer and finer. And now the last days of 2014 came with one more unhappy event as our previous Head Coach Alan Irvine departed.
Alan’s work ethic was extraordinary and his coaching ability unquestioned but the change was made necessary because during his tenure, the team just could not get on the right side of those fine margins.
The over-riding imperative to stay in the Premier League required results to match some of the encouraging performances and sadly those results eluded him.
We can all make a case for the team being placed far more comfortably in a Premier League being staged in a parallel universe . . . the penalty miss at Hull, the 2-0 lead jolted by such a soft penalty for QPR, even Sunday’s freak second goal by Stoke after Gareth McAuley had put an effort against the post.
We could go on. But as our Technical Director Terry Burton observed in announcing Alan’s departure, the ultimate currency for all team bosses is results and our’s simply have not been good enough.
To change that path, we have to go back to basics with a Head Coach who possesses a proven track record, someone to keep us in the Premier League and build again for the future. He will inherit a well-coached, well-organised team but I hope bring with him the ability to compete more successfully in and around those extremely fine margins.
We are reviewing and will be streamlining our recruitment department because we know we simply have not done well enough in this area. That has to improve.
Most importantly, the new Head Coach will inherit a club with its structures in place, robust and unchanged. Let me make that clear – there is a perpetual irritation within the club about how its mode of operation is continually misrepresented and mis-interpreted across the media.
Does anybody out there seriously think that a player is either recruited or moved on without the Head Coach’s full knowledge and sign-off? Does anybody really imagine, for example, that Robbie di Matteo, Roy Hodgson or Steve Clarke had players foisted upon them?
Of course not – neither did Alan and neither will his successor.
Perhaps we should not be surprised that these very same systems were not being criticised when we were finishing 11th, 10th and eighth.
The way we run the club will not change because it does not need to. The way we all perform in running the club is what has to improve and I firmly believe getting Albion back to basics will help us to do so.
This statement was originally published in Albion News on January 3, 2015.